Spirits were high at the optional practice for the Colorado Avalanche.
Jared Bednar was not on the ice with the squad, as Assistant Coach Nolan Pratt and skills coach Shawn Allard ran practice. There was a decent turnout, and the two assistants ran some fun drills, including a keep-away game at center ice where Jack Johnson won by process of elimination. There were a lot of smiles on the ice, even after a tough overtime loss the night before. Probably because they still control their destiny if they want to win the Central Division.
Josh Manson, who has not played since March 1, joined the rest of the skaters for practice after working on his own with Shawn Allard. He appears to be moving really well, as Allard was pushing him hard before practice, which you can see in the video below.
Bednar said he expects Manson to be ready for the playoffs. Shawn Allard is pushing the defenseman to make sure that’s the case. pic.twitter.com/qDmYokO0Bc
— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) April 12, 2023
Bednar reiterated that he expects Manson to be back for the playoffs, which would be a huge boost to the blueline for the Avalanche.
They may get a boost to the lineup before the playoffs even start. Artturi Lehkonen skated with the team and looked good, one day after shedding the non-contact jersey.
“We could see him in these next two games,” Bednar said of Lehkonen.
The 27 year old winger was having the best season of his career before breaking his finger on March 13. If he returns, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he jumps right back onto the top line, as he’s played with Nathan MacKinnon most of the year.
Cale Makar did not skate on Wednesday, but it was a planned day off according to Bednar. Darren Helm took the ice before practice for a little bit and is making progress, but they don’t know if he’ll be ready for the playoffs — which will affect bettering and the DFS NHL odds.
As for Gabriel Landeskog, we tried to follow-up on ESPN‘s report that Landeskog has a “couple more appointments” this week to figure out where he’s at, but we did not get much more information.
“I still don’t have an update on him either,” Bednar said. “He’s a work in progress and just seeing how it goes. He’s pushing himself to the limits of what he feels like he can do.”
When asked if there is ever a point that they envision pulling the plug on his season, Bednar said, “It’s possible. Don’t know.”
By the time the Avalanche finish their game on Thursday night, there’s a chance they’ll have the division wrapped up. If they win on Thursday and Dallas loses in regulation, Friday’s game won’t have a lot of meaning. At that point, it’s possible the Avalanche don’t bring some players to Nashville, according to Bednar.
The Avalanche will host their final home game of the regular season on Thursday night against Winnipeg. The game starts at 6 PM MST.